Are you one of those grown-ups who can’t help but feel a twinge of envy when you attend bar and bat mitzvah celebrations? Do you wish you could have the experience, too? Well, we here at Metropolitan Synagogue can’t quite turn you into a thirteen-year-old again, but we most certain CAN prepare you for the b’nei mitzvah experience!
The Adult B’nei Mitzvah program at Metropolitan Synagogue is for adults who crave to find deeper meaning and ownership over their Jewishness through study and fellowship, regardless of whether or not they happened to participated in a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony of their own as a child. This eight-month journey of intensive Jewish study and introspection will meet Tuesday evenings for two hours beginning October 7, 2014 and concluding with a festive Shabbat morning festive service on May 23, 2014.
Topics addressed in our curriculum include:
Tentative proposed dates for 28 sessions:
||October 7, 14, 21, 28
November 4, 11, 18
December 2, 9
January 6, 13, 20
February 3, 10, 17, 24
March 3. 10, 17, 24, 31
April 7, 14, 21, 28
May 5, 12, 19
What better way to prepare for your hectic work day than than Breakfast with the Rabbi? If breakfast isn’t your thing, then how about lunch? Or dinner? Or any other time that works for you!
Has it been your dream to jump into the world of Jewish study? Are there questions you have about faith, history, or heritage? Do you read the news about Israel and want to know more of the full context? Is this something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but never imagined you could find the time? If this sounds like you, then Metropolitan Synagogue has GREAT NEWS!
Possible topics of study might include:
Call the synagogue today at 212-679-8580 or email us to start the process of custom crafting your own personal course of Executive Study. Meetings can be arranged on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, for sessions of one, two, or three students. Youth and family study is available on a custom crafted basis as well.
Like many other Jewish parents, Janice Spector wwas thinking ahead to her son's Bar Mitzvah celebration. But she was worried about something beyond the usual planning for invitations, prayer shawls and parties. Her son attended the Stephen Gaynor School, an acclaimed academy for children with learning disabilities. How would he learn to chant his Torah and Haftarah portions? Who could work with him and his special needs? Some parents at the school had given up on the idea of a traditional Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but Spector wasn't willing to do that.
Enter the Hebrew Home Study program of the Metropolitan Synagogue of New York. The brainchild of the late Rabbi Joel Goor, the program is an urban alternative to traditinal Hebrew Schools for the space-challenged Reform congregation, which does not have its own building (services are held in a Unitarian church building). Billed as a Hebrew School that kids actually like, Hebrew Home Study offers small classes in students' homes, with teachers making house calls to give lessons to typically overscheduled city kids at their convenience.
"It's a great arrangement", says one teacher, "After a full day of school the kids are in a comfortable environment, and in small groups, they all get the attention they need and bond really well with the teacher and each other." The teachers can gear the lessons to the students' interests. "And holding lessons in this setting shows the kids that Judaism belongs in the home, not just the synagogue." And she makes use of that with her students, using their kitchens, pianos, and DVD players for her classes, and even their computers for a Bar Mitzvah training program.
As it turns out, these advantages are especially helpful for children with learning disabilities and other special needs. The personalized attention, in a one-to-one setting, if necessary, allows the teacher to adjust lessons as needed, capitalizing on each student's strengths and accommodating limitations. And just as every student's Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration is personalized to taste, the special needs student can have both training and ceremony tailored to suit. Many of the teachers have professional training in special education, ranging from dyslexia and ADD to visual and audio impairment, and even giftedness, so they are well-prepared for all sorts of situations.
In fact, even families affiliated with other synagogues and movements have contacted the Hebrew Home Study office for help. And while Rabbi Plaut would like to have all of the program's students celebrate with his congregation, he realizes that some of them have extenuating circumstances and are in real need, so he refers them to an appropriate teacher. As it happens, a number of teachers are also members of other congregations or movements -- some of them are Orthodox yeshiva graduates -- and are therefore able to to tutor students in the relevent customs and rituals.
Spector's son's Bar Mitzvah was so successful that she is now enrolling his little sister, who is not learning disabled, in Hebrew Home Study. "The program is so warm and friendly and supportive. I want my daughter to have that, too, even if she doesn't have the same needs." And because the program accomodates both types of student, siblings with special needs feel like they're having a normal Bar or Bat Mitzvah experience, rather than being left out of the mainstream once again. Like their sisters and brothers, they are encouraged to develop a love of Judaism and a confidence-boosting feeling of accomplishment.
New York City’s Metropolitan Synagogue invites you to help your son or daughter prepare for Bar or Bat Mitzvah in a totally new and uniquely comfortable way.
This program is led by our Rabbi Andy Dubin.
How the Program Works
You are cordially invited to engage in Jewish learning as a family, and help your son or daughter prepare for Bar or Bat Mitzvah in a totally new and uniquely comfortable way. Introducing Hebrew Home Study: Jewish Education and Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation in a small group, in-home setting one afternoon or evening per week.
What is Hebrew Home Study?
It is a program custom-designed for the needs and wishes of Jewish children and their parents. We conduct once-weekly sessions for individuals or groups of two – six children in students’ homes. We serve all neighborhoods in Manhattan. Past students have attended a wide variety of public and independent schools including Allen-Stevenson, Dalton, Ethical Culture, Horace Mann, PS 6 and Trinity.
Who sponsors this program?
The program is conceived and is sponsored by the Metropolitan Synagogue, founded in 1959. In a 2013-14 revamping of the program, our goal is to make possible a spiritually enriching and intellectually challenging Jewish experience, taking pride in our ability to make everyone feel welcome, including interfaith families and “seekers” at every level.
What makes the congregation unique?
Our members are Manhattanites and we fully recognize the role that flexibility plays in making Judaism accessible to them. We understand that New York City families are often overscheduled and in need of “user-friendly” tutoring solutions. Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation prompted the development of Hebrew Home Study, and it has since evolved to become more of a full-service religious school classroom without borders.
How does this differ from traditional classroom Hebrew instruction?
Our teachers are dynamic educators who know how to assess each group and can effectively set a “customized curriculum,” choosing in each case an effective mix of topics. The small group format allows for more discussion than does a traditional classroom and children bring their own important questions and issues to each session. As a result, they find the total experience relevant and interesting. Depending on the students enolled at a given time, class groups are broken down into Ages 5-7, 8-10 and 11-13. In the coming years, we look forward to introducing a Youth Group for post-B’nei Mitzvah Young Adult students.
How has this program been received?
Children come home praising Hebrew Home Study and they look forward to the next session. We hear expressions of surprise and delight from parents whose memories of their own experiences are often very, very different. Everyone involved comes away feeling that the program’s successes are far beyond initial expectations. We find that mastery of Bar and Bat Mitzvah skills can lead to some of the most rewarding and self-esteem inducing moments a child can experience. Further, connection and membership with the Synagogue community allows students to attend services throughout the year, where they are invited to actively put into play what they’ve learned in their studies.
Who are the teachers?
To make this unique program work, we attract the very best instructors available. Our teachers have strong Judaic backgrounds and an openness toward a diversity of beliefs and practices. They are not only good teachers. They are excellent role models and students and instructors form close bonds.
What kind of flexibility can I have in planning for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony?
At Metropolitan Synagogue we work with you to make every aspect of Bar or Bat Mitzvah meaningful—and enjoyable. We start by asking about a date which you find desirable. We offer you options like an early Saturday evening Havdalah service. We work with you to decide how you would most like this joyous event to unfold. And, we celebrate each child as a true individual; we have never conducted a double Bar or Bat Mitzvah service.
At what age should my child join the program?
The study program is designed for students who are ages 8-13 years old. We form entering groups of students at the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade levels. Each entering group consists of students in the same grade level. This allows each student to have 3-5 years of study prior to becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. We also accept a limited number of transfer students with prior Hebrew instruction. If your child has not had such prior instruction, we will work with you to try to create an appropriate solution. We also have a new class for 5-7 year olds beginning in January 2014.
What happens at the Bar or Bat Mitzvah service?
Your child surprises him- or herself. The rabbi and the cantor supervise each child’s preparation personally and the total program results in 100 per cent success. You and your family and friends share the exhilaration and excitement not only over your child’s accomplishment but also about your child’s interest and spirit and enthusiasm for the true meaning of his or her moment in Jewish time. What once might have seemed like a dilemma for your family’s overpacked schedule transforms into a cherished, thoroughly enriching experience from beginning to end.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah Guidelines
8-12 Months prior to your child’s 13th birthday, Cantor Nancy Bach, Director of the HHS Program meets with each family to determine the needs of the child, including their Hebrew reading proficiency level, and to design a game-plan and time-line for what will be accomplished in the preparation process.
No later than 8 months prior to the B’nei Mitzvah date, weekly tutoring sessions begin in the home. Regular updates are provided to parents during the course of these months. Cantor Bach works closely with each family to create a Service based in liturgy that is inclusive of and reflects the needs of each family. Along the way, in partnership with the child and parents, Cantor Bach helps the child to learn Torah and Haftarah portions, blessings, liturgy and their meanings as well as melodies, ensuring that he or she will be able to take a very active co-leadership role in the actual service (and of course in the years beyond the Bar or Bat Mitzvah).
The actual Bar or Bat Mitzvah Service usually takes place in the sanctuary at MetroSynagogueNY located at 40 East 35th Street (between Park and Madison), which holds 500 people. The student will have an opportunity to rehearse in the Sanctuary space before his or her actual service. We are also amenable to working with a family, should they wish to hold their service in a City or State other than NY. For example, some families wish to hold B’nei Mitzvah services in Israel, and we are happy to coordinate with Israel-based Clergy. In addition, we will help coordinate with officiating clergy in other states, or to travel along with you, schedule-permitting, to your service location. We recommend having piano accompaniment at B’nei Mitzvah services held in NYC, and will also be happy to recommend additional musicians, which can had a festive and joyous feeling to your service.
Finally, we strongly suggest that each child and their family attend at least six Shabbat Services in the months leading up to their service. Friday night Erev Shabbat Services begin at 6pm and are approximately one hour long. Cantor Bach, who will be leading the majority of service in the 2013-14 year (beginning in November 2013), will prepare each student to take a leadership role in Shabbat services, providing him or her with a cumulative sense of pride during the preparation months, and with a realistic sense of what it is like to stand in front of a congregation and take on leadership responsibility.
In January of 2014, the HHS program will start a bi-monthly (every other week) late Friday afternoon in-home class for 5-7 year olds. Using music, movement and play, students will learn holiday songs, celebrate Shabbat together and become acquainted with Jewish culture and rituals. Parents are encouraged to attend whenever possible.
In addition to an hourly tutoring rate to be discussed with Cantor Bach and the Synagogue membership fee, there will be an administrative fee of $695.00 per child, payable to the Synagogue. This covers all coordination as mentioned above, as well as correspondence and other staff/administrative needs during the preparation process. There is also a rental fee should the family desire the services held in our Sanctuary. The rental fee is to-be-determined depending on date and time for service.
Musicians who play at Bar and Bat Mitzvah services are paid directly by the family.
For more information, or to make an inquiry appointment with Cantor Bach or to speak with Rabbi Plaut, please contact the Synagogue office at (212)679-8580 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.